"Donna's very honest approach to the challenges that face organizations operating historic house museums provided real thought-provoking information, and her presentation was extremely well received."
Heritage Consulting Inc.’s principal Donna Ann Harris has worked extensively on design and development of reuse plans for historic properties. Throughout her career, she has assisted citizen groups and government agencies to identify appropriate reuses for threatened buildings. Cherished historic structures, be they house museums, distinct neighborhoods, tourism destinations or commercial districts must have viable uses to assure their long term preservation. Ms. Harris has worked closely with government and nonprofit owners over the years to identify strategies and create plans for adaptive use.
For the last thirty years, I have worked in the historic preservation movement in the nonprofit, government and now for-profit sectors. My career has led me to positions at the National, state and local levels representing organizations that want to save historic and commercial districts as well as historic sites. I see myself as a preservation planner.
I learned about fundraising the hard way, by trial and error throughout the first fifteen years of my career when I was working for nonprofit preservation organizations in NJ, PA and IL. I have started three nonprofit preservation organizations from scratch. For each, I launched a membership or annual gifts program, inaugurated special events and conferences, and wrote many successful grants to foundations and corporations. As staff or Executive Director for other preservation organizations, I learned about gala fundraising events, board giving, sponsorship, capital campaigns and government grants. I wrote more than $3.75 million dollars in successful grants applications from foundations while working for the local preservation organization in Philadelphia. I am a generalist when it comes to fundraising, because I have had to raise money for start ups as well as mature organizations.
In the last eight years as a consultant, I have found that my consulting, training and writing have been become more and more focused on fundraising aspects of the revitalization. I suspect the reason for this is because local revitalization programs are seeking ways to create stable and predictable funding to ensure that their organization remains viable over time.
As I began working for Illinois Main Street, I became aware that my nonprofit management experience and fundraising skills were highly useful to the local Main Street programs I served as State Coordinator. I have concentrated on the Organization point ever since. Three of the four feature articles I published in Main Street News in the last four years have dealt with fundraising topics, especially membership retention. Click to see all of these articles below:
While I have implemented business improvement districts in two states, the vast majority of Main Street communities I work with, do not have access to property or sales tax revenue from BIDs to fund their programs. These programs instead must rely on a variety of revenue sources each year to build their operating budgets, and this has been the focus of my training programs in the last few years. I enjoy working with local communities on fundraising issues and helping them diversify their revenue sources so that they can create and rely on predictable income streams over time. I actually like raising money and can help your board and staff understand what I have learned.
Please contact us if you think I can help your organization grow.
Since we began our firm in 2004 we have been providing well regarded training programs for history and heritage organizations. This year, we developed a new workshop series called Diversify Your Revenue Sources! These six group training workshops are all focused on fundraising for heritage organizations as they struggle with diminished government support as the recession continues to throttle state and local governments. These workshops touch on every aspect of fundraising for history or preservation organizations: membership, sponsorship, major gifts and fundraising events of all sizes. This series offers topics relevant for beginners as well as long-standing history organizations.
1. Introduction: Diversify Your Revenue Sources
2. More Members: More Revenue
3. A Fundraising Event Catalogue
4. Growing Major Gifts
5. Friend raising Not Fundraising
6. Creating A Fundraising Plan
We can customize any or all of these workshops to fit your specific organizational training needs. Learn more about each session below.
Start up and established history organizations need regular, predictable income to sustain their organizations and to ensure a viable future. This 3.5 hour session informs participants about various sources and methods they can use to broaden their funding base. Content includes: fund-raising roles and responsibilities; a diversified, sustainable funding base; seven traditional revenue sources for history organizations; “growing” existing donations; ideal revenue mixes for organizations at different life stages; and the importance of planned giving programs and endowments for a sustainable organization. We will do three group or individual exercises as part of the workshop. Participants will receive a resource packet of materials including the PowerPoint, several articles and bibliography on CD. Beginner level.
For most history organizations, membership is the first form of fundraising undertaken, but it can be a potent resource for expanding the organization's financial base. This session revolves around a case study of Main Street Libertyville Illinois, where 75% of their organizational revenue now comes from 1100 members. You will learn how they acquired, developed and renew their members in detail, so that you can recreate their success. There will be considerable discussion of the renewal process so you maximize revenue from this already committed group of investors. This 90 minutes workshop includes two group exercises. Participants will receive a resource packet of materials including the PowerPoint, our Main Street Now article, an ideal membership brochure, renewal letters and bibliography on CD. Intermediate/Advanced level.
Based on our work around the country, we present a quick review of nine types of fundraising events that work well for heritage organizations. These events, solely designed to raise money, are best when they are rooted in your neighborhood or community’s special character, people and location. We will provide a quick review of each type of event, the revenue components, volunteer requirements to manage, time lines, and growth potential so that you can determine how to adapt these to your organization. This 90 minute workshop includes two group or individual exercises and a 40 page resource packet of articles, sample files and a bibliography provided on CD. Beginner level.
As heritage organizations mature they seek ever greater revenue sources to support their activities, Board members are insisting on clear, measurable fundraising plans as a means to monitor fundraising across the whole organization. This workshop will introduce you to the component parts of a fundraising plan and how it is integrated into the annual planning process. This 90 minutes workshop includes one group exercise. Participants will receive a resource packet of materials including the PowerPoint presentation, several articles, template, sample fundraising calendar and bibliography on CD. Intermediate/Advanced level.
Potential board members may be reluctant to serve on history organization boards because they are concerned about their individual fundraising responsibilities. This workshop will help you understand how every board member can participate in some aspect of raising the necessary funds to operate your local organization. You will learn about the many tasks needed to raise funds, and how to identify and place board members in tasks where they will thrive. Based on the work of Hildy Gottleib (http://www.hildygottlieb.org) this workshop shows you how you can turn the most reluctant board member into an enthusiastic worker for downtown fundraising efforts. This 90 minute workshop includes one group exercise and a 40 page resource packet of articles, checklists and a bibliography provided on CD. Beginner level.
Mounting a capital campaign to raise large sums to save or restore an historic building in town is hard work over many years for any local preservation organization. In this 3.5 hour session you will be introduced to the components of a capital campaign: donor cultivation, the ASK, and stewardship of the donor. We will talk about developing prospect files and the information you will need in those files. You will learn about the five different parts of the Ask, which is the “in person” approach to a potential donor to support your project. We will conclude with a short group exercise: a piece of improvisational theater to show you how to do the different parts of the ASK. This workshop includes two group exercises and a 40 page resource packet of articles, sample files and a bibliography provided on CD. Advanced level.
Contact us for more information about these workshops and how we can customize these for your audience.
Creation of preservation plans for historic buildings
Heritage tourism assessments
Fundraising strategies for reuse of historic buildings
Management plans for historic sites
Conceptual site plans
Public relations for reuse of historic buildings
Preparation of request for proposals for reuse of historic sites
Feasibility studies for adaptive use of historic buildings
Reuse studies for conversion of house museums into new uses
Public history feasibility and implementation plans
Cyclical Maintenance Manuals
Safety assessments of historic sites
Heritage Consulting Inc.’s principal Donna Ann Harris has an extensive record implementing and managing facade easement programs. Ms. Harris managed for eight years, one of the largest local facade easement programs in the country at the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation (PHPC). Since then Ms. Harris has continued to develop easement documents for the City of Chicago’s Landmarks Division and assisted Preservation New Jersey in their efforts to begin an easement program. Please see our project pages for the variety of projects we have undertaken for clients.
Preparing façade and conservation easement documents
Feasibility assessment for starting façade easement programs
Coaching staff on program start up
Assisting new organizations in easement program design
Helping start up easement programs with programming
Heritage tourism is a growing interest at Heritage Consulting. The firm has been interested in methods of boosting attendance at historic sites and working with communities to ensure that tourism is a welcome activity. Since the preparation of the Historic Main Streets of Illinois Travel Planner in 2002, Heritage Consulting has continued to provide assistance to historic sites on tourism development. Since then Ms. Harris has organized focus groups, identified audiences and suggested tourism products for heritage organizations to develop. We are able to conduct the following projects for clients. Please review our project pages to see the range of projects we have undertaken.
Heritage tourism grant applications
Heritage tourism preservation plans
Heritage tourism program design and implementation
Heritage tourism event planning and sponsorship
Heritage tourism product development
Heritage tourism feasibility studies and implementation plan
Heritage Consulting Inc. has prepared historic research and designation reports for the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The firm has been involved with many other historic preservation planning services for statewide preservation organizations, state agencies and other research entities. The following is a general list of projects. Please see our project pages for further discussion of our work in this area.
Focus groups for preservation plans
Historic preservation elements of municipal master plans
Identified and organized preservation constituents
Historic site mapping projects
Designation reports on historic properties
Design guidelines for downtown districts
Design guidelines for residential districts
Historic resources surveys
Historic images research
Review of plans for compliance with grant funded programs
Research on state funding programs for tourism purposes
Research and implementation of transfer of development rights programs to protect historic properties
Understanding who visits, or what your members or donors want, is essential to any heritage organization. We provide a variety of methods to understand the current realities and motivations of your audience through the following tools. These methods can be used for strategic planning purposes, grant applications, program design and development, tourism development or organizational mergers or strategic alliances. We have conduced focus groups for the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Jacobus Vanderveer House and the Delaware County (PA) Planning Department. Surveys (both on line and paper based) have been conducted for Delaware County (PA) Planning Commission, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, and Whitesbog Preservation Trust. We have undertaken stakeholder interviews for Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, Iowa Main Street, Illinois Main Street , the Jacobus Vanderveer House and many other state Main Street coordinating programs. Public involvement workshops have been conducted for Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Preservation New Jersey and Delaware County (PA) Planning Commission all within the last five years. See these projects in our Projects tab under Historic Preservation.
Updated as of 7-3-12